Ambassador Ted Moses of the Grand Council of the Crees is one of the few aboriginal representatives recognized by the United Nations.

In fact, there are only 10 aboriginal people accredited in the world. They are consultants to the United Nations without voting status. But the UN’s recognition “gives us a foot in the door,” says Moses, speaking of the rights of aboriginal people.

Moses says that Canada has a problem with definitions of peoples and uses two definitions. At home, it recognizes the existence of the First Nations in its constitution. But at the UN, Canada argues that aboriginal peoples aren’t really peoples.

Moses also questioned whether Quebec would keep the same borders if it split off from Canada. “The territorial integrity that Quebec claims is a concern,” said Moses. “The boundaries of Quebec have been altered several times in the course of history. In 1898, in 1912 and as far back as the 17th century.”

Issues like borders would have to be settled by negotiations, he said.

Quebec has always taken the position that natives have no rights, Moses said. “We have rights that exist beyond monetary compensation. ”

Moses said the fate of the dams in Cree territory will be another open question. “It’s a question of what happens to all these rights and the Agreement.”

“What we have to understand is that it is not the Crees who are exerting their right to secede. It is not our intention and that’s the desire. When your right to self-determination is threatened by other people, that’s when you can exercise your right to self-determination. International law has certainly provided for that,” said Moses.

He said Crees should debate their rights and options. “This cannot be an isolated type of discussion confined to a few meeting rooms, a few individuals. It’s all the members of a community. How far do they want to go? How far do they want to exercise that right?”

“Quebec claims it has the right to self-determination and such claims are not being denied or contested by the Cree Nation, and certainly not by me. Only if it infringes or threatens Cree rights and the territorial integrity of ‘Eenou Astchee,’ then we have to make certain assertions and speak out on our rights,” said Moses.

“We are not a people to be passed on from sovereignty to sovereignty. I think people have to realize that.”